Longer Long Ride or Multiple Rides

Hi Everyone,

Something I’ve been thinking about recently is the following:

My upcoming plan has me increasing from 5 rides per week to six (no issues with this).

The additional ride is an endurance ride.

So my questions is simple.

Would there be any negative impact by removing the extra ride, therefore keeping my rides to 5 per week, and adding that volume to my long ride?

Some points to note:

This is just something I’m thinking about

I have enough time to slowly build up my long ride to account for the additional volume.

I like the idea of maximising my rest days if possible.

Acknowledge I could do 2 a days (I do strength as well so I would prefer not to)

The main point is - will removing the extra endurance ride - staying with 5 rides a week - adding that volume to my long ride - impact my progression negatively? MY gut says no but just putting it out there for the discussion

1 Like

Almost certainly won’t impact it negatively. Might impact it positively.

There are only three things we can play with in training: intensity, frequency, and duration. You’re just asking to swap a little frequency to add duration.

Given that cycling is not terribly skill-reliant, frequency is somewhat less important than in swimming, for example.

So if, for example, doing 8 hours in 5 rides is easier and less stressful for you than 8 hours in 6 rides, then you should do that, for sure. Adding endurance-intensity duration to a single ride is rarely a bad thing.


Just having this discussion with my coach a couple of days ago. Training for Leadville, looking at a 10-12 hour race. She has me on for 3 hr Saturday and 2 on Sunday. I want to go 5 on Saturday and 0 on Sunday. She was against it and I was like “what am I missing here??” Our longest ride has only been 3 hours so far. I’m about to go rouge.

Sigh….thanks for listening


1 Like

What am I missing here? :laughing: Is there more to the 3/2 hr rides or just endurance? If it’s just endurance and you want to do the 5hr ride and it’s not going to overly stress your schedule/life, then I’d do it. It’s your training, not hers. :slight_smile:

This is the point right? Is there a training stimulus that 2 x endurance rides give you that 1 x endurance ride = to total volume does not? That’s the missing piece I am trying to figure out. My gut feel is similar to @kurt.braeckel that it shouldn’t… but your coach is against it… hmmmm

I think she was saying the total cumulative stress was greater doing 3 of endurance one day and 2 of endurance the next day vs 5 of endurance on just one day. But I don’t understand how that can possibly be true.

If training for a stage race then yeah, stack ‘em up. But for a big one day I just can’t see how 3/2 is better than 5/0.

Thus….im interested in the comments here too!


1 Like

Yeah, just zone 2! Either I’m ignorant or she’s wrong!!


1 Like

The bottom line is if overall volume is held constant it doesn’t matter THAT much if it’s split between 5 rides or six.

In my opinion a single 5hr ride is superior to a 3hr + a 2hr ride provided the athlete can handle it, rides at appropriate intensity for the duration and it doesn’t cause undue life stress.


Maybe there’s something with how she’s planning to fit it in the overall scheme? I hesitate to be too critical of other coaches without looking at the big picture…


It’s possible but if so it’s Top Secret. Just out of curiosity….have you happened to coach a rider thru Leadville? If so, what was the longest ride?


I have. I’d have to look to be sure but I think the longest one I programmed was probably a “4-6hr” ride, which is a pretty normal weekend endurance prescription for people that need it from me, but we did a lot of them. And then I’m sure we did some relevant work intervals inside some longer rides too. He did some other races that were closer to 6, and then was just over 9 at Leadville. @BCM

For the benefit of others who may read this thread, there IS a benefit to doing multiple shorter rides over one longer ride if they’re only doing, say, 3 rides a week, right? So, for example, you’re on a TR LV plan (3 rides a week) and you want to add 4 hours of Z2 to the mix, it would be better to add two 2 hour rides (for a total of 5 rides) instead of just the one 4 hour ride (for a total of 4), and then try to increase the time on one of them as you approach your long targeted ride, right?

I ask because we see so many posts asking questions like “what’s the point of doing a bunch of zone 2 rides? They’re just so BOOOOORING”.

Why is she against it? She may have a good reason, but I’d certainly ask for a explanation. A coach who isn’t willing or able to give clear explanations for their training choices would not be a good fit for me, but I know some coaches just want to prescribe the work and not be questioned.

There are so many advantages to getting some longer rides in while prepping for something like leadville. The physiological aerobic benefits could be debated, but long rides help you prepare your nutrition, comfort on the bike (core strength, etc.), and just the mental side of pushing your rides longer.

1 Like

@kurt.braeckel @Joe “4-6” has generally been the longest programmed. Winter that could be 4 hours on the trainer on a Saturday and shorter Sunday, getting into the summer though leading up to the race that could be 6+ outdoors, with bigger volume period doubling up Sat / Sun long rides and throwing in tempo / fartlek rides instead of all Z2.

Subjectively for Leadville and long races like that, the doubling up Sat / Sun, long rides in the heat throwing in long periods of tempo / sweet spot, or just riding the whole thing tempo really pays dividends.

1 Like

There is certainly a benefit of spreading out the work if it helps you manage fatigue and make those workouts higher quality. But in the context of Z2 work, opinions/science varies. There are studies that point to adaptations that only happen as we push out durations. And there are studies that say spreading out the hours across multiple rides provides the same benefit. I’ve actually never seen a study that says spreading out the z2 work is better, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s out there. In my opinion based on what I’ve read, the number of hours is the biggest driver of aerobic adaptations and how you spread those hours out is secondary (but I’d lean toward longer/fewer days with more recovery between them). And there are clearly benefits (besides aerobic fitness) that come from longer days in the saddle when training for long events.


Yes, if you add volume, it’s going to benefit. My interpretation of the question was: volume constant, 5 rides vs 6 rides. In that case, I think there is little negative, but possibly a positive outcome.

Long rides (4+ hours) matter, though. Especially for ultra athletes. This isn’t marathon training where you do 20 or 22 miles max leading up to events. Impact isn’t an issue. So setting some 3 hour max limit on riding is kind of crazy to me.


Totally agree. I just see so many posts saying “the long ride is better” and thought it was important to caveat “in this instance”.


Maybe Joe’s coach who is currently prescribing 3+2 is thinking that he will work up to even more weekend volume? Leadville isn’t until August. I’d ask the coach for an explanation.

It could be a fatigue management plan and working up to longer rides. I know that if I do a 2 hour endurance ride I’d be fine. At 3 hours I’ll need extra recovery. At 5 hours, I’d be shattered for several days and it would impact other training.


How often do you do 5 hour rides, weekly, monthly? If they are a regular feature then you could do them then recover, and be back on bike next day no problem. But if you don’t regularly do longer durations then maybe your coach is just trying to prevent you doing too long a duration too soon.

1 Like

You can always do 5 hours at like 55% and that will help limit the fatigue. If it were me, I’d want to start building saddle time beyond 3hrs for ultra athletes pretty quickly. But that’s me.